There is no specific secret to a happy ending, a life well-lived. It is funny that I dig that line when, for me, I don't believe in fairy tales or a life that is successful and happy without putting in massive effort and hard work. Life has often been a struggle for me, but instead of complaining about it, I wear it like a badge of honor. Because I have earned it. I have created this life for myself, one that I am proud of, and I have never been happier. Note that happy to me means a life full of challenge and unexpected detours.
"The Secret to Happy Ending" is a line from "A World of Hurt" by the Drive-by Truckers, a favorite band of mine. In it, Patterson Hood says that even though life is full of hurt, that's part of the beauty. And he screams that it's a great day to be alive.
Background: my mother died suddenly in August of 2011 only eight short months after my father died of pancreatic cancer. The last event made me feel untethered and I was in a deep state of grief - so deep I felt I couldn't claw my way out of. I contemplated options I had never seriously considered. One day in September 2011, I had the urge to hear "World of Hurt" and I went on YouTube and found this version shortly after it was uploaded.
That version of the song gave me hope again. The grief didn't stop, but it spurred on a chain of events that changed my life for the better and gave me clarity - a vision for how I wanted my life to look. I became more comfortable with uncertainty.
The song often serves as a reminder to not give up. That and to keep living boldly and passionately; that has not always boded well for me in regards to interpersonal relationships, but I've long since abandoned a life of living solely for the purpose of pleasing others.
The past few years had hardened me. Over time, I grew more jaded and cynical, even though I was on a mission. Since the Summer, I have cultivated a number of close friendships that gave me courage to become more vulnerable. That is one purpose of this blog - to write about my life as it is, but mainly directed towards my adventures with travel, new experiences, and self-growth.
2014 is my year, of that I am certain. My year got off to a fine start with a New Year's Day of snowshoeing near Lisbon, ND, to see North Dakota's only waterfall, frozen, with my best girlfriend. I wanted a day of adventure, one to enjoy the calm and stillness that outdoor exploration provides in the winter, and one that would set the tone for not just the year, but the life I want. (That day will be documented here at a later time.)
Adventures lined up for the next few months already: dog-sledding and cabin camping (taking in dehydrated food!) in late January/early February to Tettegouche State Park. I am also starting to plan a vacation for mid-March, probably to Austin. I am feeling pulled more towards my home state lately, a state where not just me, but my parents came from. It's been too long and I want to experience it as an adult without parents to go home to.
On a piece of paper in my purse, I have written down a list of things I want to learn, experience, and do. I will keep some of them a surprise, but I have dubbed 2014 as the year of boxing and the banjo.
2014: The year of boxing and the banjo. That sounds right.